Homeless in Vancouver: Firefox, fired fox! Switching to Pale Moon
There will be no more security fixes for Firefox 28. More to the point, the security fixes for 28 are in the new Firefox 29.01, stuck inside the Australis user interface, which I would like to avoid.
After suffering Firefox 29.01 on my Windows 8 laptop for all of 15 minutes, I painlessly downgraded back to Firefox 28.
But Firefox 28 was (and is) a dead end; a rest stop at best. I needed to switch to a living, updating, version of Firefox.
Because Firefox is open source software—meaning the underling source code is openly available for other software developers to examine and use—there are many “forks” of Firefox to choose from.
Fork you, Firefox!
To cut to the chase, I chose a fork of Firefox called Pale Moon.
Pale Moon is built on the latest Firefox source code but pointedly sticks with an older Firefox user interface—no Australis!
There are three builds for Intel processors running Windows: 32-bit, 64-bit, and Atom processors. There is also one Linux build. There is nothing for Mac OS X.
Installing Pale Moon
Installation was a simple two-step process:
Step One: Download the appropriate version for your computer from the Pale Moon home page and install it as you would any other Windows program you’ve downloaded.
Click to agree to everything. It will put a shortcut icon on your desktop and in your task bar.
You don’t need to let it launch at the end of the installation but you may want to look at it.
At this point Pale Moon doesn’t have your existing Firefox user profile or add-ons. That’s step two.
Step Two: Download the Pale Moon Profile Migration Tool.
Before you double click the program (pm-migrate.exe), make sure neither Firefox nor Pale Moon are running.
The Migration Tool involves almost no user input. It only looks for Firefox and Pale Moon in the standard place Windows puts applications. You cannot point it at other directories. It works or it doesn’t. It doesn’t work on portable versions of Firefox or Pale Moon, which can be anywhere on a hard drive.
If you did let Pale Moon launch after installation and if you tinkered any, the Migration Tool will warn you that it will overwrite any changes you made to Pale Moon. Just agree to everything.
In my case, it appears to have copied over all my user settings bookmarks and and add-ons. And—bonus—alll the add-ons work, though I only use a few:
- 1-Click YouTube Video Downloader 2.3.1
- Adblock Plus 2.6
- EPUBReader 126.96.36.199
- TinyURL Generator 2.6.1
- Wappalyzer 3.0.11
Pale Moon has its mother’s tabs, but it’s no clone
Pale Moon’s developers differ with Firefox over several user interface issues. More than that, they disagree with how Firefox has bit-by-bit backed users into a “take it or leave it” corner. Pale Moon is meant to be as customizable as Firefox ever was.
Consider window tabs. Firefox puts them on top of everything, effectively grouping them with the program controls. Pale Moon puts them on the bottom, attaching them to the content window. Pale Moon’s developers are being logical but I think it looks cluttered the way I use the bookmarks toolbar.
It takes all of two clicks in Pale Moon to move the tabs to the top of the window.
Firefox 29.01 took away the option to move the tabs to the bottom. But it can be done using the Classic Theme Restorer add-on.
I can always go back to the fox
If I have a problem with Pale Moon, I still have Firefox 28 to fall back on in a pinch but plan B is to go with a Firefox Extended Support Release.
Firefox ESR versions receive update support for approximately one year. The current version is Firefox ESR 24 which will reach the end of its support life in October 2014. The next ESR version, Firefox ESR 31, will be available soon—next month probably. It will then be fully supported until July 2015.
As soon as I can afford the requisite backup capacity—hopefully well before October—I’m hoping to wipe Windows 8 off my laptop and return to using Ubuntu Linux. That’s because Ubuntu 14.04 seems to work perfectly well with the hardware of my Pavilion G6, including its Ralink wireless chipset.
I don’t expect my specific Windows 8 theme problem with Firefox 29 will carry over into Linux. In that case I would almost certainly just use the latest Firefox with the Classic Theme Restorer add-on. Though my understanding is that it won’t restore everything, like my beloved (sob) bookmarks toolbar.